Tainted Czech Alcohol: TTB Joins Parnter Agencies to Ensur Consumer Safety

AUSTIN, October 9, 2012 - Last month in the Czech Republic, liquor tainted with methanol was responsible for killing at least 26 people. The Czech Government has reported that the tainted distilled spirits were counterfeit products distributed through unofficial channels. The counterfeit vodka and fruit-flavored spirits were adulterated with methanol, a poisonous form of alcohol normally used for industrial purposes.

TTB joined with its partner agencies - U.S. Department of Agriculture Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) - to ensure that Czech distilled spirits sold in the United States continue to be safe for consumers. To date, no tainted distilled spirits have been discovered among alcohol producers whose products are exported from the Czech Republic to the United States.

TTB and its partner agencies took some precautionary measures to help ensure consumer safety. FAS obtained a list from the Czech Ministry of Health that listed brand names and photographs of the bottles containing adulterated alcohol, TTB compared this list with the Certificate of Label Approval (COLA) database to identify any products that could potentially be imported. TTB confirmed that none of the product names or photos on the list provided by FAS matched an approved COLA. TTB requires a COLA for each unique distilled spirits product imported into the United States to assure that the product complies with Federal alcohol labeling regulations. TTB also requires that alcohol beverage importers meet permit qualifications to assure that only qualified persons and business entities import sell alcohol beverage products in the United States.

CBP is monitoring shipments of distilled spirits from the Czech Republic and will work with TTB if any follow-up action is necessary. The Embassy of the Czech Republic has assured TTB that there is no evidence that tainted Czech distilled spirits products will be commercially imported into the United States, and TTB will continue to monitor the situation and will respond appropriately to ensure the safety of U.S. consumers.

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